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Full text of "The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence written in 1800, the twenty-seven signers forged in 1892; this question in politics"

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The Mecklenburg Declaration of 

Independence Written 

in 1800 

FORGED IN 1 892 

This Question in Politico 




u 7' /^ 

Since the proposed placing of the Memorial Tablet in the Capitol 
Rotunda at Raleigh has gotten very much in politics, I want to make a few 
plain remarks and expose a situation that every truth-loving person should 
protest against. 

The ignorance, the forgery, and the imposition are all so rank that it 
makes a chapter of mighty interesting reading. 

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence of May 20, 1775, was 
written in 1800, and the twenty-seven signers were forged in 1892. 

In a previous circular I quoted a long list of prominent historians and 
scholars who support the statement that May 20 is a jMyth. Therefore, the 
proposed Tablet should read as follows: 

In Commemoration of 

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence 

May 20, 1775 

(written in 1800) 

And the Twenty-seven Signers 

(forged by Savin in 1892) 

Erected by 

The North Carolina Society of Colonial Dames 


A brief outline of the whole situation may be interesting. 

On May 31, 1775, the people of Mecklenburg met and passed 20 Re- 
solves, known as the Resolves of May 31. These Resolves are a wonderfully 
comprehensive document, patriotic and statesmanlike, and were generally 
known at that period as the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, 
and they are worthy of all reverence and tributes of praise. 

They are signed by Ephraim Brevard as secretary for the committee. 
All contemporaneous evidence proves them and no scholar has ever dis- 
puted their genuineness. 

In 1800, John jMcKnitt Alexander's house was destroyed by fire, and 
with it the records of that meeting, 25 years before. He thereupon tried to 
recall from memory that early affair and wrote five Resolves. He fixed the 
date as May 20, 1775, and called them the Mecklenburg Declaration of In- 
dependence. However, he left a note appended to the statement, saying in 
substance that the foregoing may not be absolutely correct, but is sub- 
stantially so, as the records of said meeting were destroyed by fire with my 
house in April, 1800. This certificate was first published by Dr. Charles 
Phillips in 1853. and no one has ever questioned or denied its accuracy. 

After John INIcKnitt Alexander's death in 1817, his statement, but 
without the certificate, was found among his papers, and in 1819, the sur- 
vivors of that early meeting were called on to testify about that early affair. 
Their evidence was unanimous as to the meeting, but they differed as to 
the exact date, and they also recalled additional details not mentioned by 
Alexander. However, in the absence of any adverse proof the Alexander 
narrative was accepted as accurate. The Legislature recognized it and it 
passed into the history and literature of the State as the IMecklenburg 
Declaration of Indepe^ence of May 20, 1775. 

But about 1847 there was found a copy of a Charleston, S. C, paper 
published June 13, 1775, containing the Mecklenburg Resolves of May 
31—20 in number — and since then an overwhelming mass of contempora- 

jieous evidence, such as newspapers, letters, and documents, has been 

Jound, all of which emphasize the Resolves of May 31, but are uniformly 
llent about anything happening on May 20. Another noteworthy feature 
IS that all the differing details testified to by the survivors in 1819 and 
*- later, are found verified in the Resolve of May 31. Therefore, all the 
^ independent scholars and writers on this subject have come to the conclu- 
^ sion that John McKnitt Alexander unintentionally erred in saying May 
, 20, but he really meant ]\Iay 31, as all evidence points to l)ut one occur- 
\:^ rence and his own notes show clearly that he was trying to reproduce the 
details of the events of May 31. 

Now as to the Twenty-seven Signers. Twenty years ago this coming 
May 20, Charlotte held a great celebration, David Bennett Hill, then gov- 
ernor of New York, being the orator. There happened to be at that time 
in Charlotte an assistant clerk of the court by name of Savin from some- 
where in the North, who had found this employment because of his expert 
penmanship. He was not slow to realize on the opportunity here presented 
to transmit patriotism into cash. He therefore forged the handwriting of 
John McKnitt Alexander on a crumpled and creased sheet of paper, com- 
piled the autographs of 23 "signers," either by cutting them from deeds, 
wills and other records of 1775, or by using the list published by Lossing in 
1851; then tore from the right-hand corner of the sheet a piece to indicate 
the absence of about 4 signatures, and we have the genesis of the "Twenty- 
seven Signers." Savin called this rank forgery a facsimile reproduction of 
ti;e Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence of May 20, 1775, and claimed 
that the original had been discovered in the tearing down of an old 
building ! 

He then had this document photographed, a plate made and copies 
printed therefrom. These he sold extensively at fifty cents apiece, and they 
may be seen framed to-day in many homes in Charlotte and elsewhere. 

Now the State of North Carolina is asked to honor the placing of a 
Tablet to such a rank fraud and forgery because it has behind it the 
sanction of the North Carolina Society of Colonial Dames, and permission 
for placing it in the Rotunda of the Capitol has been granted by the 
Council of State and by the Historical Commission ! 

Is the State of North Carolina so lacking in moral fibre that she will 
sit calmly by and let this fraud be perpetrated under the name of 
patriotism? I recently asserted in a circular that the Society of Colonial 
Dames were ignorant as to these facts, otherwise I felt sure that they would 
never have consented to the placing of this TalVlet. 

I said that they were imposed upon by some folks in Charlotte who 
should have known better Init who are so prejudiced that they refuse to 
~T^Sd. the evidence. 

I have often wondered why the manhood and womanhood of Charlotte 
did not assert itself and find out what they are worshipping. Who set up 
this image of gold with feet of clay? 

If Charlotte wants May 20 as a day to celebrate and advertise herself, 
why let her have that day or April fool's day or any other day, but the 
great State of North Carolina should refuse to longer reverence that day 
as a historical date when every well-informed person on North Carolina 
history knows that that date is an Error. 

But now most of the State Council and the Historical Commission say 
it is still a mooted question. Such a silly answer sliows that most of those 
gentlemen are simply playing politics and are lacking in back-bone. 

There are none so blind as those who refuse to see. 

What avails it if every independent writer and scholar who has written 
on this ([uestion in the past fifty years has said with one unanimous voice 
that ^lay 20 is a ^lyth, when those who are in the seats of the might}^ 
refuse to read and hear anything- save that which they believe to be their 
own political or social salvation ! 

Governor Kitchin is brave enough to attack Senator Simmons' party 
regularity but seems lacking in courage to defend the State's historical 
integrity and then puts u]) the i)lea that it is still a mooted question! 

It seems to me that extreme party regularity in our National Councils 
is a very poor platform for any one to champion. We need fewer party 
devotees and more statesmen who are intellectual enough to see the Nation's 
needs and brave and wise enough to try and enforce them. 

The Hon. J. Bryan Grimes, a constant champion of North Carolina's 
greatness and historical glory, finds it just impossible to take a stand for 
historical truth because he is seeking his fourth term as Secretary of State ! 

Mr. Benjamin Lacy has been in office now for eighteen consecutive 
years, and not satisfied with such a gorging of office holding, is seeking to 
add another term to his already much too long office tenure, yet he too, 
no cioubt, voted in the mooted question column. It does seem that with 
some, at least, ])ublic office has become a private snap and none others need 
apply. I say it without hesitation that any prominent politician in North 
Carolina who professes such ignorance over this nuich-written-about sub- 
ject as to say it is still a mooted question is unworthy of his political posi- 
tion and should be relegated back to the school-room. This talk of its 
being still a mwited (question is merely a ruse to hide one's ignorance or 
l)rejudice or a lack of courage to tell the truth for fear of losing a few 

That the State has adopted May 20 as a State holiday and put that 
date on the Flag and on the Seal is excusable when we realize that those 
errors were made before the State was in possession of the overwhelming 
inass of evidence that she has to-day and which has been told over and 
over again by scores of writers and teachers of our history. But because 
(^rrors have been committed in the past is no reason why they should be 
continued, especially by those whose sworn duty it is to protect and defend 
the history and the gh)ry of the State. 

Since the matter lias been under discussion, I have been nuu-h gratified 
and surprised at the many letters I have received supporting my conten- 
r, They are coming to me daily from the mountains to the sea and from 
men and women alike, including Preachers, Teachers, Judges, Lawyers, 
and others. Only two letters have been received disapproving my course-- 
both from Charlptte. One of them stating that my sole reason was actuated 
by envy. This party evidently was ignorant of the fact that I married a 
great-great-granddaughter of John ]McKnitt Alexander, and, therefore, 
for the sake of our four children would have every reason to support the 
May 20 theories did I not revere truth and believe that the Resolves of 
^lay 31 are more glorious. Furthermore, if I have not the right to speak 
out plainly I would like to know who has when it is realized that I have 
spent thousands of dollars in an endeavor to give to North Carolina a 
series of histories that are worthy of the State's glorious past and the 
admiration of all those who are capable of appreciating well and accurately 
written and s])bMi(1idl\' jinblislicd volumes. 


Greensboro, N. C. 

011 699 942 




011 699 942